Ways in which I am an Anglophile

I promise not to gush about Doctor Who but I do want to talk about other Brit related stuffs that I am quite enjoying these days.  Because I am charmed with the British Isles these days.  And frankly, Doctor Who is really but just a symptom of that.

God Bless Cost Plus World Market!  They sell a decent (if small) selection of British yummies that we have discovered and embraced.

  • Digestives.  I know, not the best name.  They’re basically cookies, but of course they don’t call them cookies.  No, they’re biscuits.  Very much like a graham cracker, actually.  Full of fiber, lightly sweet.  Fantastic when served with tea.  I’m partial to the ones that have chocolate layered on one end of the round.  Cadbury (they have a U.K. division that I feel is far superior to the US one) makes a variety that I am completely addicted to but the last time I was in Cost Plus they were sold out (who told??) so I got a package of McVities’ with dark chocolate to try instead.  And they?  Are fantastic.  I think I just like Digestives.
  • Candy.  I swear, the U.K. has the best chocolate.  There’s the aforementioned Cadbury who makes not just the Digestives I so love but also a wonderment known as “Flake”.  It’s a chocolate “bar” of sorts, very flakey, very crumbly, very light.  And VERY YUMMY.  It can be hard to get ahold of this as ordering online direct from the U.K. (and not another country and it does make a difference because it’s not quite the same).  But so worth it.  There is also a chocolate/mint bar from Nestle (again, the U.K. division) called “Aero”.  It has a minty center that is filled with air bubbles and is surrounded with milk chocolate.  VERY good.  Again, light which I’m discovering I enjoy in my candy.  And let’s not forget Maltesers.  These are pretty much just like Whoppers, but I think they taste much much better.  Why? Because, like all the candy (and pretty much everything else) from the U.K., there is no high fructose corn syrup.  The sugar is cane sugar and they don’t overdo it like a lot of the candy here in the States.  It’s certainly sweet, but you don’t have a sugar hangover from this stuff.  You can actually taste the actual flavors and once you get used to that, well, it’s hard to go back.

And it’s not just about candy.  There’s a chain English-style pub here in town called The Firkin and Wolf that we’ve gone to a couple times on a lark and have found it to be a fun and yummy place to eat.  Seriously, their Bangers, Beans and Mash are sinfully yummy and paired with some English mustard is quite honestly the stuff of my dreams.  YUM.  Anyhow… where was I?  Oh yes!  Well, Firkin has a good number of U.K. lagers and ales on tap to enjoy.  I’m not a big beer drinker though so it’s never been a real consideration for me.  I do, however, like hard cider.  And you know what?  Firkin has cider ON TAP.  It’s called “Strongbow” and I have developed a love affair with it.  Before, I drank Hornsby’s like the rest of the cider drinking population in this country.  But now, I don’t think I could go back to Hornsby’s.  It’s definitely far sweeter and far heavier.  Strongbow has a very light flavor and it’s fantastic to drink.  And luckily, we have a “wine superstore” here in town that has all manner of booze available and they sell Strongbow both in bottles and cans and I am able to easily feed my addiction.  SOGOOD.

We have also developed a fondness for British television.  Yes, of course, Doctor Who crests that list for me, but there’s been so much more that we have watched and loved.  ”Sherlock” comes to mind and if you’re the sort that appreciates really intelligent TV and you have Netflix, go look it up.  It is fantastic.  And the lead actor is named Benedict Cumberbatch.  Come on, in what universe is that not completely awesome?  But it’s not just “Sherlock”.

I also have developed a LOVE for a show called “Top Gear” which runs on BBC America pretty much all the time.  I’m not even sure if this is the sort of show that I normally would enjoy.  I like to think of it as a cross between Mythbusters, an educational program about cars and a celebrity talk show.  It defies explanation.  But it’s completely awesome.  I discovered it when looking up videos on YouTube featuring actors from “Doctor Who”.  Because part of Top Gear is an interview with a celebrity and them racing a car around a track trying to beat other celebrities times times on the leaderboard.  And I enjoyed the clips I saw so much that I started to watch full episodes.  And, well, that was that.  I love to watch them test out cars and either rave over them or completely rip them apart.  I love to watch their silly little experiments and globe-trotting journeys.  It’s truly fantastic and funny and a lot of the time if I don’t know what else to watch, I turn on Top Gear and can be guaranteed to be entertained.

We’ve also recently started watching a show called Twenty-Twelve which is a “mocumentary” style series with plenty of subtle comedy.  Think of “The Office” and you get a little idea.  It’s about these people who are charged with planning the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and of course hijinks ensue.  The cast is lead by Hugh Bonneville (who stars in Downton Abbey so you know he’s awesome) and is narrated by David Tennant (listening to his Scottish accent is a highlight).  The show is hilarious and we’ve been really enjoying it.  If you have BBC America on your cable, give it a look.

I’ve also kind of fallen in love with Graham Norton’s show on Saturday nights. It’s a talk show of sorts but I love the format.  Instead of bringing out the celebs one by one, they all come out and sit on the couches together and just… chat.  And it’s fantastic.  Some utterly inspired interactions happen on that count and you often get a chance to see celebrities interact together that you might not otherwise get to see.  For instance, last week they had the lady who played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter (pardon me, I’ve forgotten her name) sitting next to Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas.  And watching the two of them play off each other had us howling with laughter. Seriously.  Great show.

There’s all sorts of other TV programs and such that we’ve watched and I’m sure there’ll be more. I’ve already watched a good number of miniseries and have many more that I hope to watch in the future.  Most of them are on BBC, but a few have been on iTV.  The Brits seem to be the kings of the miniseries.  Not quite the commitment of a full TV program, but more than just a TV movie.  Brilliant!

I’m sure I could go on and on and on about all the things I’m enjoying about the U.K. these days.  But I won’t because I’ve prattled on long enough.  And see?  I didn’t devolve into drooling over actors and actresses and I kept the raving about accents to a bare minimum.  I call that restrained.

  • T_HWilson

    I know what you mean BBC America is awesome. I was totally addicted to Footballers Wives when that was on. Now I’m in love with Downton Abbey. BTW, talking about food, have you ever tried a Scotch Egg? They are so yummy with some good mustard.

    • marilynsp

      You know… I haven’t had one and it shouldn’t even sound good to me at all but yet… now I want to try one. I’m imagining it with some good spicy English mustard… YUM!

  • http://bratscatsandexpats.com/ Djo

    As an English mum in America, I thoroughly enjoyed your views on my home, even if I am not a Dr Who fan … or at least not now. I am of the generation that used to hide behind the sofa on a Saturday afternoon because the daleks were scary!! I must also confess that I have never yet seen Downton Abbey – must remedy that sometime. I congratulate you on your description of Top Gear – I’ve been a fan of them for years. Those three presenters are just big kids having a fun time! Make sure you see the mean things they do to caravans!

    Digestive biscuits are endemic in England. They are a staple of the biscuit barrel and McVitie’s are the original (in my eyes). My favourites are the ones coated in dark chocolate. I quickly discovered that Cadbury’s is produced under license by Hersey’s in the US, which is why it tastes better if it has been imported from the UK. Flake bars are the best. Try freezing them! We have a wonderful little ice-cream called a 99 which is sold by ice-cream van only. It is a either a scoop, or more often, the whippy ice-cream in a wafer cone with a short flake bar stuck in it. Total heaven :-) Have you had a look at the Flake adverts on youtube? They are positively rude, but great fun!

    Aeros – totally yummy. They come in chocolate, mint and orange flavour but what we see here is very limited. I also agree about the Maltesers – ours taste better. And YES, YES, YES – we don’t use corn syrup!! I’d never heard of it until I came here four years ago and now I can’t get away from it.

    I buy most of my English food in liquor stores … seems to be ‘the’ place in New Jersey. If you have young kids, consider tracking down Dolly Mixtures – the nearest thing I can think of to them is candy corn, but DMs taste nice! English smarties are also top notch scoffing chocolate, in small amounts.

    If you are enjoyng our English humour on TV, I strongly advise you to venture into the world of radio. Go to the BBC website and find the radio section. Radio 4 and Radio 4 extra have a fabulous selection of low and high brow humour. Radio 4 is seen as the intellectual speech radio of the country – and it has us all sniggering like teenagers!

    Your blog is now bookmarked so I can peruse you at my pleasure, so to speak.

    Scotch eggs are yummy, but (Melton Mowbray) pork pies are better!

    Djo

    • marilynsp

      I can’t decide if I like the Cadbury digestives or the McVitie’s dark chocolate ones better. I think right now I like the McVitie’s best. I have a thing for dark chocolate. ;) All the stuff from Cost Plus is imported, so thank goodness for that!

      You definitely need to give Downton Abbey a try, it’s delightfully angsty and fun. We just finished season 2 and I’m aching for season 3.

      You also seem to have some of the best actors, honestly, my favorites anymore all seem to be British!

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